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Estate and Elder Law

A Look into the Elvis Presley Estate: Who Got What and Where Did It Go – Recent Filing Chronicles the Progress of Elvis’ Estate – FREE DOWNLOAD, Complaint

Who owns Elvis Presley?

If you've toured Graceland and witnessed the Elvis Presley merchandising giant, it's a question you might have asked yourself. Elvis "the Brand" is a retail empire, from his Nashville home to his music catalogue to his image as a rock n' roll icon. And for the sake of curiosity, you might have wondered, "Who inherited the King of Rock n' Roll's kingdom?" A new complaint answers that question.

Recently, Elvis Presley Enterprises filed a copyright/trademark action accusing a video distributor of wilfully engaging in infringing activity consisting of the manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion and sale of a CD/DVD box set entitled, Elvis 77 - The Final Curtain.

The intellectual property issues notwithstanding, the complaint chronicles the progress of Elvis' estate post-mortem.  In a nutshell, it states:

  • Elvis Presley died at his Graceland home, August 16, 1977
  • Elvis' last will and testament, dated March 3 1977, appointed his father, Vernon Presley, as executor and trustee of a Residuary Trust, one of the beneficiaries being Elvis' nine-year-old daughter, Lisa Marie Presley.
  • Vernon Presley died, and Elvis' former wife Priscilla Presley was named one of three trustees.
  • The Residuary Trust transferred and assigned all right, title and interest in and to the name, likeness and image of Elvis Presley and trademarks related to Elvis Presley to Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE Inc.).
  • After reaching the age of majority but before the Residuary Trust's termination, Lisa Marie Presley entered into an agreement with her mother, Priscilla Presley, creating a revocable, inter vivos trust known as the Promenade Trust. The Residuary Trust then assigned all of its assets, including all intangible intellectual property rights that it owned throughout the world, to the Promenade Trust.
  • In 2005, the media and entertainment company CKX, Inc. acquired an 85% interest in EPE Inc. Before the acquisition's consummation, the Promenade Trust transferred Elvis Presley assets not owned by EPE Inc. to a newly incorporated limited liability company, Elvis Presley Enterprises, LLC (EPE LLC), which was also a subsidiary of CKX, Inc. The Promenade Trust continues to own 15% of the outstanding equity interests of EPE Inc. and 15% of the outstanding membership interests of EPE LLC. Collectively these entities own and control the trademarks, copyrights, rights of publicity and other intellectual property rights in and to Elvis Presley.

View or download the entire complaint filed in Elvis Presley Enterprises, et al. vs. Bud Glass Productions, et al., 4:11-cv-00050 (N.D. Fla. 02/02/11)